Posted on April 16, 2020 by Al Greater-Placer Nuggets
Written By Carol Barry
“When something goes bad, turn it around, and find something good.”
My 3 year old great granddaughter sings that Daniel Tiger song to me whenever she breaks a toy or when I run out of Monkey Food Bars at the park. It plays in the back of my brain as I shelter in place day after day, missing her desperately. I also miss my Assistance League® buddies. None of us even imagined the phrase “social distancing” before the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) directives. We are now staying home, except for essential business. We are standing 6 feet clear of ANYONE else. We are wearing masks and rubber gloves on necessary errands. Even our calendars have been swept clean of all interactions.
Assistance League of Greater Placer members are not homebodies by nature. Quite the opposite. We love to raise funds that we can use to provide clothing, scholarships or educational aids for our community members and their families. These may be our neighbors and friends who live just down the road from us. Our community is our tribe! With COVID-19 hanging over our heads, Assistance League members are still finding ways to reach out to folks who could use a leg up, cheering up, an opportunity to get a job, or access to an educational program. Let’s take a look at our organization, shadowed by COVID-19.
BAD NEWS first. Our beloved Thrift Shop had to close its doors because its limited space did not offer ways to stay 6 feet apart from our fellow volunteers and customers. We are not an officially designated ‘essential business’. It makes us sad not to provide good, clean, up-cycled, affordable clothing and home accessories to our customers. We worry that being closed may even jeopardize meeting our fundraising goals.
Our visits to assisted-living friends have been curtailed for the safety of everyone. COVID-19 is highly contagious, and victims may not even have symptoms as they unknowingly spread the virus. Visits to schools & hospitals have been cancelled because of school closures and hospital restrictions regarding visitors. That means a halt to tutoring, puppet programs, Sierra Bear deliveries and being able to connect with students to donate school supplies or clothing.
This pandemic really drives home the point of how interactive our philanthropies are. We are not just donating funds, we are CONNECTING: visiting, teaching, listening to, encouraging, cheering people up & providing opportunities.
But there is GOOD NEWS! Although COVID-19 is taking lives, it is also changing lifetime habits, sometimes for the better. We are washing our hands more often (always a good idea) and sanitizing our homes. Parents are hanging out more with their kids, and we finally have time to Spring Clean the garage, unclutter cupboards, use up freezer foods and streamline closets.
ALGP members are continuing to change lives for the better during the pandemic. For instance, Thrift Shop co-managers, Sherri Ewoldt and Sharon Roloff, have had the vacant Thrift Shop cleaned from top to bottom. The carpets have been steam cleaned! There is also some “purging & organizing” going on, preparing for a grand reopening! With forward-thinking managers like this, lemons become lemonade!
Our Scholarships Committee members are also hard at work, connecting via personalized emails with the high schools they work with, as well as the colleges and trade schools. These caring volunteers continue to stay in touch with each of the 19 students in the program to check on their welfare and progress, encouraging them and letting them know they care.
Our Community Assistance Committee continues to receive local agency referrals of low- income persons who desperately need medical equipment, utility bill payments, car repairs, rent, etc. Our Assistance League chapter has funds set aside for just these kinds of community needs and we are glad to be able to make a difference. One of the agencies we work with is Kids First, and sometimes we can help needy youngsters when government assistance is not available. Stay tuned to this Blog in upcoming months for more stories from our Community Assistance volunteers.
It’s inspiring to hear that our members are taking their “shelter in place” time to reach out to neighbors and friends, to pick up their groceries or prescriptions, or haul their garbage bins to the curb. Others are baking treats to share with those who live alone, sewing face masks to donate or joining friends for a walk (6 feet apart!). We are now acutely aware of how we all need to look after one another, ALWAYS. We seem to be cooking more home meals, planting vegetables, playing more Family Scrabble, watching documentaries together, mending, writing letters, sending uplifting emails and connecting via phone or FaceTime. Any sharing we take the time for (“you’ll love this movie, recipe, humorous video . . . “) is priceless.